Boundaries of Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Oedipus the King

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Boundaries of Fate and Free Will in Oedipus the King

The ancient Greeks firmly believed that the universe was guided strictly by order and fate. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles has examined the relationship between free will and fate, suggesting that free will paradoxically exists inside the boundaries of fate. It may be concluded, however, that man has free will and is ultimately held responsible for his own actions.

Oedipus' destruction was brought about by a combination of fate and free will. He was a victim of fate for it was foretold at his birth that he would marry his mother and murder his father. This prophecy, as warned by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi was unconditional and inevitably would come to pass, no matter what he may have done to avoid it. His past actions were determined by fate, but what he did in Thebes, he did so of his own will.

Oedipus took many actions leading to his own downfall. Oedipus for one could have waited for the plague to end, but out of compassion for his suffering people, he had Creon go to Delphi. Another action that hastened his downfal...

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Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Sophocles. "Oedipus Rex." An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed.Eds. Sylvan Barnet, et al. New York: Longman, 1997.

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